Pro Resin 1/72 Folland Gnat F.1

KIT: Pro Resin 1/72 Folland Gnat F.1/FR.1
KIT #: R72-040
PRICE: $
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Resin kit with vacuformed canopies

HISTORY

The Gnat was the creation of W.E.W. "Teddy" Petter, a renowned British aircraft designer, who believed a small, simple fighter would offer the advantages of low purchase and operational costs. New lightweight turbojet engines that were being developed at the time enabled the concept to take shape. One of the hallmarks of the Gnat's design was its compact size. However, to achieve such a small size, its systems were quite closely-packed, making maintenance more difficult. Some of its systems were not noted for their reliability and the aircraft suffered from high operating costs. There were also issues that its cockpit was cramped and obstructed the instructor's forward visibility. Furthermore, the limited weapons load and reduced fuel capacity both designed to reduce overall kerb weight meant that it could not operate for protracted periods. Despite the shortcomings, the Gnat and its predecessor the Folland Midge were praised by the RAF evaluation and the test pilots. The lower cost of the Gnat, its compact dimensions, as well as "good press" for the aircraft in air shows, were among the factors that prompted a spurt in its export sales.

Gnat F/FR.Mk 1 and the subject of this kit was the initial, single-seat lightweight fighter version. Finland order 13 aircraft which were delivered in 1959-1960. Two of these aircraft were converted to FR.1 with the addition of a camera nose. Apparently Yugoslavia also acquired a pair of Gnats, though just how much service these planes saw is unknown (at least by me).

THE KIT

ProResin kits have always been superbly molded. the parts are free from most resin glitches like air pockets and slag, though I did find a couple of areas that had been slightly chipped during shipment. As superbly as ProResin packages their stuff to keep down damage, it is pretty much inevitable that some of the finer bits will break away from the pour stubs. This may be due to no protective barriers on the ends of these stubs to keep other bits from directly contacting the fragile parts. Something ProResin might want to look into adding to these bits.

Anyway, the detailing is superb with crisply molded panel lines and there is even some fine interior sidewall detailing. Probably due to the admittedly cramped quarters in there. There is some resin flash over things like cockpit and wheel well openings, but is easily removed. The cockpit is not the usual tub, but a floor with rear bulkhead onto which the finely molded and rather unusual bang seat, control stick and instrument panel are attached. All the wheel wells are separate and to my eyes, have the proper well detailing in there. Since the main fuselage is used for several variants, the nose is a separate and solid piece. Not sure how this will affect adding nose weight or even if any is needed, though there will be some room under the cockpit floor.  As the majority of parts are exactly the same with the previous kit, I've left that parts image in place and here are the additional bits used by these variants.

The canopy is vacuformed and two are supplied in case the second is needed. Unlike the previous kit, no bombs are provided, only the wing tanks

Instructions are well done, consisting of seven well drawn construction diagrams, a separate cockpit painting section and color chart providing Humbrol, Model Master and Revell paint references. Markings are given for three aircraft. Two are Finnish AF  planes and one Yugoslav version. They seem to be in the standard RAF colors of Dark Sea Grey/Dark Green over Aluminum, though I'd have thought the Finnish planes would soon be in Dark Green/Black over Light  Blue. My comments regarding the lack of positive color ID for the main camo continues from the last kit. There is no definitive icon pointing to the various overall airframe colors; just a grey shade chart off to the side. I'd recommend to ProResin that they definitively indicate the overall airframe colors for those who have trouble figuring out these charts. The decals themselves are just outstanding. Well printed with no apparent registration issues and in the proper colors by Begemot Decals in Russia.

CONCLUSIONS

So there you have it. Another fine kit of one of the world's smallest jet fighter aircraft and one that has been sorely needed for many years. The Gnat saw long service with the Finnish AF and having the (to me) unknown Yugoslav variant is a bonus. As these kits tend to sell out rather quickly, I'd highly recommend grabbing one while the grabbing is good. Check your local retailer for availability.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org

February 2008

My thanks to www.olimpmodels.com for the review kit. Ask your local store to order one for you.

 If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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